A white man suspected of attacking and severely injuring a Black food truck owner in southeast Portland last June has pleaded guilty to an assault charge stemming from the attack, authorities said.
Daniel Thomas Warren, 40, is accused of attacking Darell Preston, who runs LoRell’s Chicken Shack and has been described as “a guy loved and respected by most and truly hated by none,” on June 15, 2023.
Warren pleaded guilty to a third-degree assault charge and no contest to a first-degree bias crime on Friday, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. A bias crime is the same as a hate crime in Oregon.
The brutal beating in broad daylight, which involved Warren hurling racial slurs including the N-word at Preston, left the food truck owner with a broken nose, a fractured face and several lacerations to his eyes and mouth, Atlanta Black Star reported previously.
The Portland Police Bureau said last year that Preston was delivering food, and his family said he was on the phone with his wife when the unprovoked ambush and attack unfolded on the sidewalk in front of his business.
The beating was partially caught on cellphone video from onlookers as well as nearby surveillance footage.
The suspected assailant allegedly said while attacking Preston on Southeast Foster Road and 52nd Avenue, “I hit you, N—er. Stay on the ground!” Preston’s attorney, Alicia LeDuc Montgomery, quoted the attacker as saying.
Montgomery said last year that no one stopped to help despite witnesses driving by in cars. A posted video on June 28 from TikToker Michael McWhorter, credited for helping authorities track down Warren, showed the suspect kicking and beating the food truck owner as drivers honked their horns, presumably in an effort to stop the suspect.
Warren had left the scene by the time authorities arrived on June 15.
Images of the then-36-year-old Preston posted to his restaurant’s page last June showed the extent of the damage to his face after he was attacked: cuts, red and puffy eyes (one of which was swollen shut), swollen lips and blood-streaked cheeks.
The restaurant said in the post made before the attacker was found that Preston had feared for his life.
Portlanders who spread the word about the attack online helped lead to Warren’s arrest, LeDuc Montgomery said in a statement to Atlanta Black Star.
Authorities located and arrested Warren on July 2. Warren is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 21, KPTV reported.
“The overwhelming response from the community calling for justice has been both humbling and empowering. I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank each and every person who has stood by me and my family,” Preston said in a statement following Warren’s guilty plea.
An active GoFundMe campaign set up to assist Preston in the aftermath of the attack has raised more than $89,000.
“Every day, people come to my cart asking about the case. For me, it is a constant reminder and reliving of the incident, but it is important to a lot of people in the community,” said Preston, whose food truck has since relocated to Sandy Boulevard in Portland.
“He needed to be held accountable for both the assault and the hate crime involved,” Preston said.